Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

Flip Flap, Flip Flap: September ’17 Roundup

flip flap

Hey Alex, how do you produce So Much Content?

Well, the first and easiest answer is that if I’m not writing and creating content I will literally dissolve.

The second and possibly less unsettling answer is that most posts are scheduled at least a month in advance, so generally I’m not actually churning out five whole posts each four-week period (to use this month as an example). My AniFem piece was also in the editing pipeline for a couple of months (due to a combination of the editors being uber busy with convention season and the piece going through a rigorous and amazing editing process. Seriously, Caitlin and Dee are powerful and work very hard to make the articles that go up the best they can be!) so the only posts I generally write the month of publication are for Lady Geek Girl, since those are pitched on a monthly basis.

That said, I’m still working hard to write the posts to put in the queue for the next few months, so maybe I do end up writing an equivalent of five posts every four-week period… it would depend on the period in question, what else I have going on, et cetera. This ties neatly back into the first answer.

You’re writing about a helluva lot of anime these days, aren’t you?

Jeez, I sure am. There are a couple of factors behind this: first, that anime is so very, deliciously accessible these days with the rise of legal streaming sites. It’s such a blessed change from even five years ago! I’m also much more plugged into the anime blogging community than I have been before, so I can keep an eye out for recommendations of what exactly to try out. Bobbing in a pool of writers publishing fun and insightful articles about anime also inspires me to do the same, and of course watching and thinking about anime gives me potential pitches for both AniFem (obviously) and Lady Geek Girl (where I am one of a small fraction of weebs on the writing staff, which means anime reviews and discussion are a less common angle and subject matter, so I can safely pitch knowing it’s less likely to have been written about before).

The last reason is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading, reading, reading this year, so visual media has been the way to go when I’m trying to unwind! (Yes, I know, I have the subtitles to read, but it’s a wholly different experience)

Is it difficult balancing a thesis with blogging for fun and writing for other websites?

You just have to manage your time well. Again, if I’m not writing I will become a puddle of a human being, so having that drive definitely helps. For the love of goodness don’t sign up for any kind of higher degree if you don’t love reading a lot and writing a lot.

Alex you dweeb, are you just writing gay mythology fanfiction for your thesis? How did you get away with this?

Well, yes and no. As I said in my three-minute presentation I’m responding to Campbell’s assumptions and other scholars’ critique of his work with a “reimagining” of an old story: an original narrative in its own world that borrows The Hero’s Journey structure, rather than a direct retelling of a myth but with the hero’s gender simply switched out. As well as giving me more wriggle-room to build the world and the supporting cast around the point this project is trying to make, this is basically so readers don’t need to know the myth it’s based on to understand and enjoy the story. Obviously it’s being written to come parcelled with the academic exegesis explaining all the research and intent behind it, but it’s also super important that it’s just an engaging and accessible story. With heroic lesbians!

Anyway, everything’s a little bit fanfiction, and there’s nothing wrong with that–in fact, it’s a perfectly valid form of creative response in the field of academia (though obviously you have to make sure your copyright stuff is all in order. Ancient myths written down by monks: not such a big deal. Contemporary fiction: have a long talk with your supervisor first). I have a barrel full of sources talking about how revision of myths, fairy tales, and other familiar cultural stories for the purpose of reflecting or inviting cultural change is a much-loved and progressive practice, but since I’m miraculously still excited to talk about this project rather than exhausted with it, I’ll save all that for another post.

You finished watching both Flip Flappers and Revolutionary Girl Utena this month. Have you overdosed on metaphor-laden queer coming of age story?

…just a little bit

You didn’t get sick this month! Congratulations!

Don’t jinx it!!

anguishhh

On the blog:

Baccano! vol. 1: Live Forever or Die Trying (in which I read a light novel for the first time. People get shot)

The Death of Innocence and Rebirth of the Hero in Revolutionary Girl Utena (in which I realise that Utena is exactly my jam in so many thematic ways)

On AniFem:

Adding Salt to Sweet Vanilla: The Complex Women of ToraDora! (in which you were incorrect if you thought I’d finished having thoughts and feelings about this show and these characters)

On Lady Geek Girl:

The Garden of Words: A Masterpiece, But Did It Have to Be a Love Story? (well? Did it???)

Magical Mondays: A Journey Inside the Mind with Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers (in which two magical girl series delve into the inner worlds of their characters and results may vary)

Cool Links

I have never watched The Big Bang Theory, so it’s nice to have someone else so eloquently explain why the whole vibe of it upsets me so much:

Here, Cracked argues that Game of Thrones has finally been screwed over by the conflicting laws of genre it’s trying to play with

Here, a lovely personal piece about anime, personal growth and nostalgia

Here, The Fandomentals discuss and define “superhero fatigue” and ponder that Wonder Woman’s success was probably because it was, finally, something different, in having a woman in its starring role of course but also by attempting to be optimistic in a world of Nolan-esque Batmen, hitting this particular nail on the head:

Here’s the thing, grimdark for the sake of “edginess” is a privilege. Our own reality has become quite bleak over the years and most of us have to deal with some sort of oppression, hate, or prejudice. Pretending to live in a Crapsack World is no longer that fun or relevant. But stories? Stories are more relevant than ever. They’re a powerful tool to keep us going in times like these, to resist and refill our hearts with hope and positivity.

Here, a reflection on non-binary identity and the magical girl genre: “If gender isn’t binary, then being magical isn’t either”

Here, a post about hunting for ace representation in the media you love (and maybe, just maybe, finding it in My Love Story!)

Here, Artemis and Watson continue their slog through the series voted Worst Anime Ever with the baffling concept of Vampire Holmes

And here, a post about three different food-focussed series and how to strike the perfect balance between being a story about delicious edible goods and a story about people

Alas, I don’t have any new podcasts to recommend this month, but Chatty AF suffered through both Netflix’s Death Note and Neo Yokio to come out with some great discussion and insight that is definitely worth a listen to. Travis and Theresa were also particularly adorable in the Shmanners episode about eloping.

As always, take care out there everybody. Stay safe, stay hydrated, stay rad.

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Sapphic Steampunk Superhero Shenanigans: August ’17 Roundup

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Well, I spent this month having my immune system beaten over the head with a shovel. I think I was bedridden and asleep for a solid chunk of it. Still, I didn’t miss too much news in my mini-coma! For example, the Netflix Death Note movie happened!!

On a more serious note, some nasty stuff is happening in the world at the moment. It would be facetious not to acknowledge that, even though I can’t really do much about it, much as, of course, we all wish we could. Sometimes the world is too big, too frustrating, too scary, and it all threatens to suck you down its drainpipe, and you watch that whirling precipice approach and think “what am I really doing to help this? What can I, tiny dot in the cosmos, really do to help this?”

Here’s the thing we all have to remember: the cosmos is made up of tiny dots. If I can give someone something entertaining or interesting to read that takes their mind off things for a little while at the end of a hard day, I’ve made the world a little bit better. We’re all saving the world in our own tiny ways, day by day, and the truth is we just have to keep on doing our thing, boats against the current of the despair drainpipe, giving it the middle finger as we swim in the opposite direction.

And so, here’s what I published this month:

Here on the blog:

Secret Women’s Business: Galko-chan vs Stigmas and Body Stuff (in which Please Tell Me! Galko-chan was really, really good, actually)

Clancy of the Undertow: A Delightful and Unconventional YA Protagonist (in which I introduce you all to Clancy, who is my small angry gay daughter whom I love)

Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover (in which a teenager magically shrinks, nobody communicates, and it all somehow ends in a coma and a wedding)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Magical Mondays: Showing, Not Telling in Princess Principal (told you I’d end up writing something about this series, eh?)

How Telltale Games Plays With Expectations in Their Superhero Series (in which Telltale achieves the impossible by being fresh and new in the superhero genre and making me care about Batman)

What’s Cool?

I (re)discovered Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox recently and it’s been a wild ride going through the whole discography. I will leave you with this cover, a personal favourite, and appropriate for this post since it makes me think of Clancy:

Covers that change the vocalist but not the pronouns, thus making the song No Longer Straight, are one of my understated favourite things. Now, reading material:

In the wake of the Beauty and the Beast “first gay moment” debacle and others like it, here is one writer arguing why creators telling us to “keep an eye out! ;)” for queer characters in their movies does not count as LGBTQ+ representation

Here is a reflection on the impact and resonance (intended or otherwise) the Animorphs series had on trans youth of its era

Here is a long, but fascinating, article about abridgments and censorship in translations, which opened my eyes to some industry intricacies I hadn’t been aware of before and also made me realise I probably read the shitty original translation of The Phantom of the Opera

Here is the wise and well-versed Erica Friedman discussing the history of the term “yuri” and how the genre developed

Here is the very valid question, put into better words than I could myself, of why the hell the Amazons in Wonder Woman are worshipping Zeus when a) in the comics they have always revolved around a goddess, b) Zeus is such a dick

Here is Dee’s endorsement for Dance with Devilsa… supernatural harem comedy musical that ends up saying some really interesting stuff about romantic fantasies and female empowerment? Damn, I might have to hunt this down

Also from a while ago but always relevant is this piece about the accusation “you’re watching it wrong” and objective viewer experience (also from that blog… apparently The World God Only Knows actually does something interesting and meaningful with its trashy concept by the third series??)

Last but not least, here is a fun Cracked article that suggests, among other silly things, the theory of Mad Max as post-apocalyptic mythology, which I can definitely dig

The Podcast Corner

anime is lit

This time ’round I have two new indie pods to recommend: Anime Is Lit, where two friends discuss anime and related media through the eyes of both fandom love and literary criticism; and Manga in Your Ears, where ongoing and completed manga series of similar themes are reviewed and compared. They’re both fun, interesting, easy listening, and have each inspired and intrigued me to add new series to my ever-long list of things I ought to watch/read.

The only curse is that these are both very new, meaning I’ve “caught up” all too quickly and am now waiting for new content like a golden retriever sitting by the front door (if the podcasters are reading this, please, don’t be guilt-tripped by this imagery… but do know that it is true).

As one last link before I go, here is a quiz to discover what gallant illustrious phrase the poet Homer would use to describe you. I got “Giant-Killer”, which is significantly more badass than I was expecting. Life throws you surprises sometimes though, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s a sign I should be more confident.

I want all of my readers to know that any time someone says to me “Hey, I read your blog post and it got me interested in reading that book/playing that game/watching that show you wrote about!” it increases my power by 110%. It’s good to know I’m spreading good stuff around–as I said at the start, that’s all we can really strive to do, isn’t it?

Take care, everybody!

 

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No Problem Fun: July ’17 Roundup

we out

Hey everybody! I spent most of this month either swamped by moving boxes, or lying in a cold-medicine-addled delirium with the Mii creation screen music on loop in my head, or both. But I got some writing out there in the world, read a lot of enlightening reviews, and listened to an ace podcast I want to tell you all about:

Here on the Blog:

Overthinking Bargain Books: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (It wasn’t bad, it just… I mean… it sure was something, but it wasn’t good)

Oxenfree vs Until Dawn, the Cage Fight (in which I compare the very different styles of two very different spooky games, and celebrate how they manage to be frightening in their own way)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Trailer Tuesdays: Life is Strange: Before the Storm (there’s an uncomfortable amount of colons in that article title, but there’s unfortunately nothing I can do about it. In any case, woo! Chloe prequel!)

Throwback Thursdays: Black Butler’s “Jack the Ripper” Arc (oh, Kuroshitsuji, my original Problematique Fave)

Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions: A Silly Yet Heartbreaking Story About the Power of Geekdom (this is actually the second time I’ve watched this series; I wanted to see if it punched me in the heart as much as it did circa 2013. Spoiler alert: it did)

Good Words:

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The summer anime season threw its premieres at the world this month, which means the blogosphere was awash with the joys and horrors of reviewing them. Vrai and Dee were at the helm of AniFem’s first impression posts, which was a delightfully entertaining time. Except for the fact that a significant number of the most promising titles are on Amazon Strike: a service whose clunkiness and grabby-handedness with big series could perhaps be forgiven if it didn’t lock all its content behind a double paywall that only Americans can use.

To add insult to injury, even Fate/Apocrypha, which dangled the exciting premise of a Fate thing I’m not already invested in in front of me, got eaten by Netflix and so I won’t be able to access it until they dump the whole completed series on there in November or so. Frog-kun says it’s pretty alright though, so I look forward to sitting down and bingeing that nonsense when it arrives. Oh, how quickly I became an entitled child of technology, simply expecting everything to be easily streamable…

In any case, Atelier Emily is doing a series of great meta posts on Made in Abyss, so at least we (read: me) can soak those up even if we (read: me) can’t watch the show itself! And if you can’t ride the wave of whatever international licensing sorcery Madman performed to get their hands on Princess Principal when it seems to be locked in Strike for the USThe Backloggers are reviewing it episode by episode. 

PriPri ranked very highly in Dee and Vrai’s reviews, which is great, since it looks to be the gem of the season for me–singing its siren song of crime-fighting teenaged girls, lush steampunk aesthetics, science-magic, and Baccano!-esque car chases and shadowy intrigue set to jazz (composed by Kajiura Yuki, no less!). Combine this with the anachronistic but oh-so-stylish character designs and it hits a certain Cool Factor that has my inner sixteen-year-old self sitting up and taking note. Watch this space for some potential posts on the subject…

For some less contemporary anime, er, fun, Watson and Artemis have bravely teamed up to review series voted Worst Anime of All Time to see if they really are The Worst. The brave souls.

Good Sounds:

So, a bountiful combination of having no internet and having to do lots of driving/menial tasks created a perfect catalyst in which I somehow listened to approximately 22 hours of CoolGames Inc this month. It’s a funny and creative hypothetical game design podcast, in which Griffin McElroy (my God, those boys are everywhere, and they haven’t disappointed me yet) and Nick Robinson receive prompts and suggestions for video games from Twitter, and work the best ones into hilarious and wonderful product ideas.

For a taste of their creative potential, I recommend checking out episode five, in which they conceptualise an edible, 3D-printed, randomly-generated game controller:

And for a taste of their goofy potential, I recommend episode thirteen, which features a lengthy discussion of guns that shoot salt, improvised Oompa Loompa songs, bartenders looking for love, and Griffin explaining how you can clip through to another plane of reality if you take sleep meds and anti-sleep meds at the same time:

That’s about it from me for now, gang. I’ve got another Adventures in Asian Drama post coming next month, a book review (I’m reading again! My God!) and hopefully another AniFem piece in the pipeline. Plus a creative thesis to finish and some IKEA shelves to assemble.

Thank you for reading, as always. Stay hydrated!

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Ancient Greek Army of Mums: June ’17 Roundup

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I haven’t got anything written up about it, but I just want you all to know that Wonder Woman was so damned good.

It’s been a busy month (again), full of work and writing and social gatherings and the terrifying but rewarding business of planning to move house. I’ll be entering this phase of upheaval in the middle of next month, but as always posts are scheduled in advance so the blog will be running a lot more smoothly and calmly than I probably will.

I haven’t read any novels for approximately a hundred years (or, at least since Honours started and I was reading so many words that reading more words in my spare time–even if they were fun, fictional ones–seemed like a ridiculous idea) which I feel bad about, but there’s finally going to be another Overthinking Bargain Books post! It… sure is something, friends. Watch this space.

A reminder as well that you can find me on Twitter now, where yes, I have vaguely learnt how to use Twitter! Hit that follow button for quality, witty live-tweeting like this straight to your internet doorstep:

On the Blog:

“Heroes” vs “Heroines: A Tale of Linguistics and Juicy Academic Gossip (in which I begin by roasting Joseph Campbell, then dive into the tricky issue of gendered language and implications)

Fantastical Queer Webcomics for the Soul (a companion piece to the cute romance recommendations, but this time with more ass-kicking)

Make It Gayer: ToraDora! (I told you I’d do it)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

“This Town is Full of Ghosts!” The Power of Atmosphere and Landscape in Night in the Woods (in which I examine how the setting of this spooky, brilliant little game reflects its protagonist and feeds into a genuinely Gothic exploration of a dying town)

Sexualized Saturdays: Martyred Moms and Dastardly Dads in the MCU (Marvel is killing off all of its sweet and pure mothers, whereas Wonder Woman has a whole island full of Ancient Greek warrior mums. Like, I don’t want to jump into a Marvel vs DC argument, but I’m just sayin’)

Cool Junk

This month’s “next time you have two hours to kill, instead of setting up a movie please watch this” award goes to this video essay on everything wrong with Sherlock:

As you may know if you’ve been following me long enough, Sherlock entranced me when I first watched it. As with many other people, though, the shine wore off as time went on, and this essay is a very entertaining, analytical, and dare I say it, cathartic tear-apart of the famous series. This includes why it’s a faulty adaptation of the original stories (about which the presenter knows more than I do) and why it’s faulty storytelling even as a standalone piece, dipping into all sorts of juicy critical analysis including glancing back at Moffat’s earlier work to see the same quirks and flaws (I had never heard of Jekyll, and now… well, “enlightened” feels like the wrong word, but my eyes sure have been opened).

Other enthralling reads (that will take less time to consume) include a blog series Ace is doing over at LGG on the minor characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, versus their portrayal in the adaptation Game of Thrones… and how the nature of these adaptations show a fatal misunderstanding of the source material. Even the way the prologue pans out–a tiny scene about characters we only meet once–foreshadows massive ideological differences between the original books and what the show has turned the story and themes into. Alas, we should have seen all this bullshit coming… is anyone actually gearing up to watch the next season of GoT, or have we all collectively divorced it? That’s not snark, it’s a genuine question, since I’ve barely caught the faintest whiff of hype on the breeze.

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Also in the analytical realm is this article about how Psycho Pass handles mental illness so delicately and accurately until it… doesn’t, dropping the ball and basing its plot around harmful misconceptions.

This post is a brief examination of the character types most commonly found as the male leads of two geeky genres, similar but oh so different: the Extremely Mediocre Light Novel Protagonist and the Gruff Chiselled Video Game Hero. They come at masculinity from two different angles and create two very different archetypes, each annoying as each other in its own way.

Speaking of light novels, Caitlin over at Heroine Problem has personified their anime adaptations as dudes you meet in the first year of uni. Now, it’s not necessarily a genre I’m familiar with, nor, mercifully, am I familiar with the trials of on-campus living, but even I got a kick out of this (especially Sword Art Online‘s entry. Snort.).

Saffron Alexander wrote about the “space racist” trope, which having not dipped my toes into Doctor Who in a long, long time, I also wasn’t familiar with, but the article brings this issue to light very eloquently. You know a piece is good when it makes you mad about a trope you weren’t even aware of before…

Last but not least, I have never read Fahrenheit 451, but I’m always interested in examining the classics from a modern angle–so Saika’s review was a good read, if only for the fact that she calls Ray Bradbury an edgelord.

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This month’s podcast recommendation is The Kind Rewind, featuring Theresa and Travis of Shmanners taking a more informal approach and talking about beloved TV shows and movies that they’re rewatching. They’re chatty and fun to listen to as well as analytical, which is always the golden combination with these sorts of things–I’m loving their commentary on Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is filling me with beautiful nostalgia and a general warm fuzzy feeling. The best place to find the episode links is through that Twitter I linked up there, but of course they’re available on all podcasting apps and iTunes and all that jazz.

And, because three mentions is the charm, Spirits did a great episode about the mythology behind Wonder Woman, including a fantastic interview with her current head writer! They also covered The Rainbow Snake this month, which, while the episode itself gets a bit tangential (it’s informal storytelling between friends; it’s just part of the Spirits brand) it was pretty cool to hear some Australian folklore on there for the first time.

Before I sign off, I want to thank everyone who’s been reading this little blog–WordPress tells me I’ve hit the milestone of 1,000 Likes, so that’s exciting! A special shoutout to users Rambling Kori, RJ Bailey, Artemis, Mythos, and those other familiar faces that I see popping up in my notifications time and again (and an extra special shoutout to Mythos, who is one of the few people to interact with my Twitter nonsense); and to the people who got into a really interesting discussion about lady villains over on my latest LGG post. If you don’t have means to hit the Like button but still read along, whether that’s regularly clicking through or just popping by occasionally, you are still very much appreciated!

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Never Smooch the Robot: May ’17 Roundup

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Whoof, well, May seems to have passed me with the force of a small aeroplane engine, leaving me sitting on the proverbial runway in its wake with my hair pointing in all directions and smelling of jet fuel. Semester is over and I’ve handed in my finalised, beautiful, in-depth project proposal, and now I have free reign to spend the rest of the year researching at a slower pace and writing my novella. Huzzah!

Somewhere in there, because I can always wriggle in time for this sort of thing (and because I needed a break–I spent the ANZAC Day public holiday tucked up in bed with my laptop and multiple cups of tea), over this month and last month I’ve been trying out a Crunchyroll subscription, which is why there are two–two!–whole, shiny new anime being written about in this roundup.

Oh, and I have a Twitter now! Though it will mostly be used to link to the blog you’re already reading, hey, give it a look.

On the bloggo this month:

ToraDora! Wrap Up Post (oh my gosh guys, we did it!)

Sense8ional: A Sense8 Review (re-posted from Popgates after the death of Popgates’ pop culture section. Now to sit down and watch season two…)

A Magical Girl Education: Sailor Moon (in which I finally watch the iconic magical girl anime in its original uncut form and am full of hearts and rainbows but also a little bit confusion)

It’s a Metaphor, Max: The Storm (in which the other big supernatural plot device in Life is Strange makes no sense either, so I attempt to suggest that it’s also symbolic)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Trash & Treasures (in which the podcast recommendations continue! This one’s about trashy movies and queer stuff)

The Bittersweet Taste of Orange (in which I peer at a high school drama about suicide and time travel and try to work out of I liked it or not)

Magical Mondays: Flying Witch and Magical Realism (Flying Witch is what I spent that public holiday bingeing. Oh, it is a delight. But also worth writing genre meta about!)

What Are Ya Readin’?

Well, this first recommendation is actually something to watch. Pop Culture Detective’s video essay on the ‘Born Sexy Yesterday’ trope looks into the recurring pattern in sci-fi and fantasy of a woman-shaped robot, alien, or superbeing of some other description, who is naïve and childlike, but while also being a badass and… sexually available to the (presumably male) protagonist. One of those things is skeezier than the other, but the whole thing is an awful mess, and the video makes for a fascinating discussion and exploration of the trope and why and how it’s iffy, and why you should you probably never smooch the robot.

Now, here’s some food for thought: Does Marvel Have a Second Movie Problem? Well, yeah, it does, this article argues. The second instalment in most of the franchises—see Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and most recently Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, which the writer uses as their jumping off point—are notoriously mediocre and feel… weirdly like filler, a thing that technically shouldn’t be possible in the movie medium. Except for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because in all my reading and various conversations about superhero movies, literally no one has ever tried to tell me that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a bad movie.

Forget zombies, says The AV Club: the “hot new villain” in games about young adults is the world itself, a supernatural manifestation of the crushing pressure and sense of hopelessness young people are forced to deal with in today’s existence. While I’m not sure how I feel about “hot new” anything being used unironically, this article gets to the heart of what makes darlings of mine like Oxenfree, Life is Strange, Night in the Woods (a new favourite) and, yes, even Until Dawn, so resonant and powerful in the way they shape their conflicts.

Want to learn about the long, strange and detailed history of queer representation in anime and manga? This is a transcript of a convention panel/presentation on exactly that. It’s long, but fascinating, super in-depth, and full of neat things to know about iffy (or not so iffy, sometimes) tropes and their historical origins. I never realised “bara” as a nickname for buff dudes came from the Japanese word for “rose” and its association with a gay magazine, but now I’m so educated…

Oh, guys, I want to like Sakura Quest so much—the initial reviews were so good! It’s about a twenty-something on a quest for meaning in the workforce! But alas, this show just seems to be smacking me on the head with a rolled-up newspaper trying to get its message across, which is leaving me with nothing but a headache. Atelier Emily’s post about sincerity in the show articulates this problem very well.

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I KNOW. OKAY. YOU HAVE NO CONCEPT OF ‘SHOW DON’T TELL’

To loop back to the theme of queer anime/manga, translator Jenny McKeon wrote a post for AniFem this month recommending some safe and not-gross yuri manga, also briefly exploring the history of the genre and the various problems it can run into. Also rife with problems (but still worth mining for hidden gems, as this next post tells me) is the “boy’s love” genre, which this writer side-eyes for its strange reluctance to actually acknowledge its characters in a queer context and its bad habit of treating its women characters like crap, despite supposedly being a safe haven for women to explore sexuality…

Speaking of The Gaze and its affect on characters within a story, this post discusses comics and superhero movies and how they’re tangled up in the issue of what women want to see versus what men assume (and want) women want to see. Also on the theme of silly writing in the genre, here is an article imploring writers to let superheroes be emotionally vulnerable sometimes, damn it.

And finally, here is a paper exploring representations of fanfiction in the works of Rainbow Rowell (including my beautiful problematic fave Fangirl) and arguing that, hey, maybe fanfic is a good thing, emotionally and creatively (I was lucky enough to sit in and see this presented when I volunteered at a conference last year, so it’s very neat to finally have a link to share it with the world).

What Are Ya Listenin’ To?

via twitter

I haven’t had the chance to engage with much of the ol’ internet radio this month, but I have to throw out a recommendation for Our Fake History. Did Anastasia really survive the execution of the Russian imperial family, or was her miraculous reappearance a case of sensational mistaken identity? Did Nero fiddle as Rome burned, or was that just a rumour fabricated by contemporary Christians and later rulers who wanted him to look bad? Was there a real Trojan War, or did poets just make that shit up because everyone loves a good battle drama? These are the questions this passionate history teacher asks and discusses, attempting to debunk myths, historical hearsay, and crazy-ass theories to get to the truth, while also acknowledging that even if something didn’t happen, per se, sometimes the fake story is still too good not to tell.

I’m going to cause trouble and recommend the giant three-parter on whether or not Atlantis really existed, because that was an absolute whirlwind of fascinating bizarreness, including mythology, underwater volcanoes, Nazi science, arguments about what Plato meant, and straight-up conspiracy theories. I was downright doing this by the end of it:

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Or, if you don’t want to dive into something that long and in-depth, try the episode on the Minotaur labyrinth. The interplay of myth and history is a mesmerising topic, and this guy is such a natural storyteller that I was engrossed for hours.

In other exciting news, AniFem’s podcast is now on iTunes and Stitcher and stuff, which seems to mean it now appears in most podcast apps! It’s early days yet, but they’ve got end-of-season discussion, some staff Q&A, a retrospective on Revolutionary Girl Utena and some neat stuff on Ghost in the Shell.

Oh hey, and Eurovision happened! I would like to congratulate the soulful fellow who won for Portugal, but also thank Moldova for injecting some genuine pizzazz into my life with this hot nonsense:

Thank you as always for reading my little slice of the internet, and take care out there.

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Don’t Drill a Hole in Your Head: April ’17 Roundup

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What have I learned this month? Don’t leave your assignments to the last minute, don’t underestimate the power and influence of the Victorians, don’t drill a hole in your head, and for the love of goodness, don’t stick a spanner in an iconic character’s backstory just to justify casting a white lady to play her.

Blog content this month:

Cute Queer Webcomics for the Soul (exactly what it says on the tin. Every time Heartstopper updates I get stupid little flutters)

It’s a Metaphor, Max: Time Travel (in which Life is Strange is back on my desk, getting pulled apart in search of deeper meaning in the aspects of it that make no damn sense)

And ToraDora! episodes 22, 23, 24 and 25. We did it! Wrap-up post coming tomorrow!

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Potterless (I’m just a podcast recommending machine now)

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: A Cute, Fun, Trashy Domestic Comedy… with Dragons! (in which I introduce you all to my new Problematic Fave)

Sexualised Saturdays: Letting Boys Cry (in which it’s important for men to know they’re allowed to be emotionally vulnerable, which is why portrayals of fictional men–especially ones in typically ‘manly’ and cool roles–are so important)

On Little Anime Blog

My Favourite Anime: ToraDora! (want a more succinct post about why I love this show? Roll on over to LAB where I pitched in to provide content during the main writers’ hiatus)

Nifty Things to Listen To

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Let it be known that April is the month I began my official descent into the McElroy entertainment empire. This extended family is everywhere—you may know them from the seven-years-long-and-still-going-strong “advice” show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, or perhaps from The Adventure Zone or Monster Factory or whatever the hell this is. I’ve been listening to their shows of the “we love our wives so let’s give them a platform to teach us all about their passions” variety.

Shmanners features Teresa McElroy and her doting husband Travis, wherein they discuss modern day conundrums of etiquette, the social history behind them, and the evolution of “traditional” behaviour and customs of society—many of which aren’t as old as we may think. The episode on first dates is one I would definitely recommend, tracing the history of wooing romantic partners from its roots in medieval chivalry (if it actually existed, and wasn’t just something the Victorians made up in an attempt to romanticise that era) to 18th and 19th century courtship rituals to the evolution of “dating” as a concept (without your parents in the room! Amazing!) in the 1910s and ‘20s, all the way through the business of “going steady” in the ‘50s to the Free Love movement to modern day.

You can also learn about the history of the amusement park (thankfully we don’t have baby-viewing chambers in our entertainment alleys anymore…) and the public pool, which are equally fascinating. Especially when paired with the modern advice section that makes up the latter part of the episode, where you have to contemplate whether the ancient Egyptians bathing in the river Nile had the same problems with people flicking sand in their face as we do today… social history, man. Love it. And Travis and Teresa are a delight to listen to.

A quite different but equally fun dynamic is Dr Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin in Sawbones, where they discuss medical history. I haven’t listened to as much of this as Shmanners yet (partly due to my notably weak stomach) but the episodes on “cinematic neuroses” (featuring infamous BBC mockumentary Ghostwatch, which terrified a nation and is an intriguing story in and of itself) and on the history of medicinal tea have stood out to me for pure fascination factor.

Ah, this family has so much to teach us. Or you can just watch them zoom around in tiny cars.

I also picked up Nancy two days ago (on Amanda from Spirits’ recommendation) and blitzed through basically the whole thing so far. This series about modern LGBTQ+ life is strangely engrossing, due to both its sound design and content, which focuses on personal stories and ranges from moving to hilarious to heartbreaking. There’s been a lot of focus on the L and the G rather than anything else so far, mostly I suspect because that’s how the two hosts identify, but hopefully they branch out a little as the series goes on. That said, it also has a big focus on intersectionality especially in regards to race since both hosts are Asian-American, which is always something good for my little mixed-grain-white-bread self to learn about.

Oh boy, speaking of which, Ghost in the Shell came out at the very end of last month, and by now everyone has more or less forgotten about it except for the occasional internet grumble (partly because the live action Death Note trailer dropped, with almost comically bad timing, and focus shifted to include that nonsense in this overarching issue). Before the hype dies down, though, I urge you to listen to ANN Cast’s episode on it—it’s funny, thought-provoking, analytical in a very approachable and interesting way, and fills you in on everything you need to know without having to give this mess of a movie any of your money. Thanks, lads.

Nifty Things to Read (it’s all anime this month guys, sorry)

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Speaking of people watching terrible things so I don’t have to, I’d like to extend my gratitude and support to all the tireless bloggers who waded into the new season of anime premieres. My God, there’s a lot of trash out there. Artemis’ opinion is worth reading, as always, as is The Josei Next Door’s, and the dedicated fellows of Rabujoi are hard at work as usual, sometimes with analytical results, sometimes with hilarious ones.

For premiere reviews with a more distinctly queer and/or feminist lens, I would, as always, recommend AniFem. If only for some entertaining and thoughtful reading material—Amelia notes what makes a satisfying and well-rounded love story in a way that’s actually very helpful and succinct for writers while ruminating on Tsuki ga Kirei; and eloquently as ever has no time for the harmful burning nonsense that is Armed Girls Machiavellism or Akashic Records of a Bastard Magic Instructor.

Eromanga Sensei could have been a delightful exploration of grief, family, and art, if it were, just maybe, not entirely about the virgin-whore dichotomy and they’re-step-siblings-so-we-promise-it’s-not-incest incest; how promising World End looks kinda shows how low the bar is set for light novels; Royal Tutor is “a trash bag wrapped around a cinnamon roll”; Twin Angels Break just might be the best trans representation we’re going to get this season; Tsugomomo is a cool fantasy idea drowning in its slapstick slice-of-life setting; and Love Tyrant made Vrai embrace the inevitable heat death of the universe.

From general consensus across all these blogs, the most promising series of the season seem to be Sakura Quest, RE:Creators, and Grimoire of Zero. I’ll keep an eye out and see how they progress…

A few other readables:

And more academic papers. So many. I’m looking at putting together another thesis-based blog post a la my look at The Cauldron of Story and swan maiden theory once actual university shenanigans have cooled off, so stay tuned. There’ll be some spicy stuff.

Also, Thor: Ragnorak looks like it’s actually going to be really fun and possibly good. Could it be so?

YES THOR

Don’t drag me back in like this, Marvel.

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Being Meguca is Suffering: March ‘17 Roundup

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“Hmm… This is problematic…”

With more content being produced on this site, I’ve become aware that it might become a bit of a rabbit warren to find posts as they pile up. So from now on I’m going to start doing monthly roundups so recent works are all aggregated in a handy-dandy list, and I can recommend and link to cool things to read, listen to, or watch that I’ve come across and want to share. This month, mythology, magical girls, cute demons, podcasts galore, and learning way more than I ever expected to about School Days

And, of course, my brand new shiny banner went up yesterday (only took me five years to change from the theme’s default…) thanks to Jess Rose! Check out the rest of her stuff here.

Here on The Afictionado:

The Art of Being Self-Aware (in which screw you, The World God Only Knows)

Platonically in Love with Radio Silence (in which I have a lot of feelings about friendship in YA, and this novel in particular)

Swan Maidens, Dragon Maids, and Screwing with Gendered Expectations (in which I apply folk tale theories to trashy magic-domestic anime)

PLUS ToraDora! episodes 18, 19, 20 and 21

On Anime Feminist:

The Problem with the Dark Magical Girl Genre (in which I look in-depth at the magical girl genre’s power of optimism, and how various new works are taking great joy in tearing that apart for edginess’ sake)

On Lady Geek Girl:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Spirits (in which this one mythology podcast is really cool, guys)

Cute Demon Crashers Set to Return with Cute, Comfy and Consensual Queer Content (in which I express my love for this little indie smut game and excitement for its gay sequel)

Until Dawn and the Indestructible White Guy (you thought I was finished dragging Until Dawn? Nope. In fact now I’m doing it on other people’s websites)

Fun Things I Discovered This Month:

Trash and Treasures, a podcast where three friends watch movies or TV shows cast to the wayside and either end up tearing them apart or celebrating their underrated beauty (often both). Without meaning to, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about Disney through listening to this, particularly the studio’s weird dark era/renaissance that occurred in the tumultuous but ever-so-hip ‘80s. The episode on School Days was also… well, I feel like “enlightening” is entirely the wrong word, but I sure did learn a lot.

Because I’ve actually learnt how podcasts work now, I also discovered Still Buffering, in which three sisters discuss the trials, tribulations and various pop culture Things of teenaged-ness in different eras. The episode where the legendary (but oh so sweet and down to earth) Lin-Manuel Miranda guest stars to talk about being a theatre kid is particularly charming.

Other good listening material includes Stuff Mom Never Told You, a gender studies focused podcast looking in-depth at everything from the history of the pin-up girl to queer characters in romantic comedies and a whole pile of political, cultural and biological discussions too.

I also found Erica Friedman’s website Okazu, a go-to cover-all zone for wlw content in Japanese media, primarily manga and anime, and I found it via Erica’s smart words in ANN Cast’s episode on LGBTQ+ representation in anime (where I learnt, among other interesting things, that I’ve been pronouncing ‘Utena’ wrong for my entire internet existence)

And, though it’s not a new discovery, it’s always a good time to plug Defenders of the Faith, a project (intended to be short illustrated novels) that reimagines historical queens and women rulers as magical girls! So far we’ve seen detailed and adorable designs of Marie Antoinette, the Romanov sisters, and beloved postergirl Queen Victoria among other fine ladies, with the next designs in the works billed as Lililoukalani, the last queen of Hawaii, and Enhedduana, Sumerian princess, poet, and world’s first astronomer. You can find them on the blog linked there and their Facebook page too.

Nifty reading material:

  • Elisabeth O’Neill responds (in part) to my AniFem article and explores one of the ideas that Madoka Magica did well in its descent into the dark side of the genre–the intensity and pressure of growing up and having to suddenly cope with grief and responsibility
  • You know Sword Art Online and the geek-boy fantasy fulfillment it represents? Turns out that the “lost in a fantasy world” genre actually comes from distinctly shoujo roots, as Caitlin Moore describes in this very educational post
  • Remember Hatsune Miku and the Vocaloid craze? I sure do. While I personally haven’t interacted with it for many years, the Miku machine is still going strong, and is now being used as a platform to examine and deconstruct fan and idol culture in an exhibition in Europe, which The Backloggers write about here
  • For some thesis-length anime meta, see Lance’s exploration of Fate/Grand Order‘s portrayal of Scathach
  • Want to understand exactly what people mean when they say “the gender binary” and why it doesn’t always work/is a harmful way of thinking (I sure learnt a lot!)? See Zinnia Jones’ explanation of the Gender Axis (of Evil)
  • Friendships between ladies are great, and we should 100% keep depicting them in media, but Shannon Miller makes the intriguing argument that we should also be allowing and exploring more complex and grey relationships between women on TV as well
  • “When romantic love becomes a universal, convenient motivator, it becomes both unexamined and a silent expectation looming over us: it is a well that can always be drawn upon, even when there may be something else that would better suit a story.” Natalie Ritter asks why romance is integral to so many stories, and asks where people who don’t experience romantic attraction can find themselves in fiction on Gay YA
  • Lady Saika neatly sums up the Nick Spencer Nonsense phase Marvel comics are currently in and why it’s such nonsense (because “Captain America was a Nazi all along” isn’t self-explanatory enough for some people…)

Finally, in the wake of Sunrise’s cringe-inducing segment on cosplay where the panel of hosts exclaimed “we’re not actually sure what’s going on here, wow, isn’t this weird!!” rather than  attempting to even pretend they’d done any research or were interested in the subject of their show, it’s always a good time to watch The Try Guys and see this kind of thing done well (both in that it’s funny, but respectful, and also Eugene continues to dazzle me in that he looks good in literally every “ridiculous” outfit or trend this show puts him in. Turns out he also makes one hell of a Sailor Mars).

And of course so, so many academic articles. Including a whole 300-page PhD dissertation on why Cu Chullain’s wife Emer is The Best, because you can do that when you’re a PhD student.

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